Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother and sister and nieces, but at the end of the day, due to a bunch of stuff I’ve been through, I consider my closest friends as my family.
It’s understandable that my friends have plodded through similar traumatizing family travails as I have; we have all had to find a way to re-construct a support structure by ourselves, mainly comprised of people who are not always related through consanguinity.
This came into question a few years ago, when I realized that I was approaching forty and had no offspring. I had always wanted children, but my ex and I put it off year after year, due to a few reasons. One of them was that I was afraid that I would screw up whatever children I had because I was never really a child, due to dysfunctional family dynamics. Another was that I was working insane hours and couldn’t even imagine handling something else. There were other reasons, ones that I don’t necessarily feel comfortable right now in disclosing in this post. Needless to say, I never got pregnant.
Then when we got divorced, I was about 35, which meant that I was right smack in that age range where if you want to get pregnant, you should do it then. But I was dealing with an enormous change in my life and didn’t want to rush into any sort of commitment with some stranger just to get pregnant. That wouldn’t have been fair to me or to the other person.
I finally decided to approach one of my best friends in the world, Jacob, to ask him if he would be willing to donate his sperm should I decide to have a child. I remember the phone call between us when I asked him if we could meet for dinner. I was wary and tense at the same time, which sent up a bunch of red flags, I am sure, for him. I am unable to be casual when I should be.
When he met, pretty much right after we ordered, he said, “I know why you asked me here.”
“Really?” I asked.
“You can have my stuff.” He responded. “Yes. Now can we have dinner?”
He said that he mentioned to his partner after the phone call that I sounded weird, who then replied, hello, it’s obvious why she wants to meet you! She wants to see if you’re okay with donating and you’re totally going to do it, right? And my friend said yes, of course.
I am not there at this point. But it meant a lot to me that Jacob was completely willing to be the donor and that we agreed on everything. That he didn’t need to be involved, that the child I might have would be mine, and mine alone. That he didn’t need to take on any responsibilities and feel like a “father” in the traditional sense.
Jacob is like me, more clinical and straightforward so he discussed his family’s medical background as a forewarning of issues that may appear. Not that there were many. Afterwards, we enjoyed our meal, especially since I was so nervous that before we met at the restaurant I had gulped down two enormous glasses of red wine (totally helped, BTW!!).
Despite the fact that if you agree with that perspective or not — having a child in that fashion — I think anyone can acknowledge that at least it was wonderful and heartwarming that Jacob was so willing to give me something that was so significant: the life of a baby.
And although I didn’t go through with artificial insemination (uh, because there is no way we would have conceived through the standard, biological process), it meant so much to me that Jacob said yes.
I love my friend Jacob and would be proud to have his child. Even if we wouldn’t be together in the traditional, marital sense. He is great. I love him.
I am lucky, really lucky, to have such great friends. And that is one of the many reasons I consider them my family.